Meet an Airbnb Superhost

Jeddah tourism tips from a local

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If you’re looking for an authentic Saudi experience, consider renting from a local through a platform such as Airbnb instead of staying at a hotel. We recently spoke with Saleh Khalaf, an Airbnb Superhost in Jeddah, who runs several properties close to the Red Sea. He shared with us what it’s like to be a Superhost — an experienced and top-rated Airbnb property manager — as well as some of his favorite sights to see in and around his city. At the heart of what Khalaf tries to offer each of his guests? Hospitality. 

“Saudis are very well-known for their hospitality. Hospitality to us is really a way of life,” Khalaf says. “To me, Airbnb isn’t just about making a second income. It really is about welcoming people into my home. I want to ensure that any visitor of mine feels welcome.”

One way he does this is by leaving a mabkhara to burn incense at each of his properties.

“It’s kind of a Saudi tradition. Whenever a guest comes over, we light up some coal and we burn these small pieces of special wood,” he says. “I always have these in all of my Airbnbs so that a visitor can just come in and experience some of the hospitality, the flavors, the smells of the city and the region. This, to me, is a part of life. When I’m home, if I want to relax, I burn some of these myself.”

Learn more about Khalaf’s hospitality and Jeddah in the video below.

What to Do in Jeddah

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Explore the Jeddah Waterfront and More

Khalaf says there’s no shortage of things to see and do in his city, nicknamed the Bride of the Red Sea. He recommends water activities such as scuba diving and snorkeling, visiting the historic old town of Al Balad and spending an afternoon or evening at the Jeddah waterfront — a true local hangout as well as an excellent place to view King Fahd’s Fountain at dusk. 

“There’s so much to do on the Red Sea,” Khalaf says. “The Jeddah waterfront is definitely a place that’s worth visiting. It’s a few miles long, and right on the Red Sea. It has a beautiful walkway where you can rent a bike or take a stroll. I would definitely recommend going there about a half-hour before sunset. The sunset on the Red Sea is absolutely amazing.”

Check out this guide to seeing Jeddah by day and night.

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 Enjoy Jeddah Hospitality

Another top recommendation from Khalaf: Have a meal or a cup of coffee with a local in their home.

“I’m always more than happy to welcome any of my guests on Airbnb to come over to my place for a cup of coffee, a meal or a chat. I recommend that any visitor to an Airbnb visit the home of their host, or another Saudi’s home, if possible. See how they live, eat and drink. It really is insightful. You’ll experience all of the aromas, the smells, the tastes and the flavors of the city.”

In addition to messaging your host to meet up, companies like Hihome are making it easier than ever for visitors to connect with Saudi locals through experiences such as eating and cooking in locals’ homes. Nourah A. Alsadoun, the company’s founder, says she was inspired by her own travels to countries such as Cuba and Colombia, where she had the opportunity to meet locals by going to their farms and trying their coffee. When she returned to Saudi, she noticed the diversity across the country, in everything from food to clothes. “But we do have one thing in common, which is that we love to host at our homes,” she says. So, Alsadoun decided to turn hosting into a business, not just in her home but across Saudi.

“I found that people were amazed, especially expats,” she says. “They loved this family atmosphere, going into the home and learning about the family and culture. You don’t get that if you go to a museum or restaurant,” Alsadoun says. “Everyone from Riyadh to Hail to Jeddah has their own story.” 

[CTA] Learn more about what you can experience in Jeddah.

Lisa Zimmermann is a travel writer and editor who has previously written for Club Traveler, Boston magazine, New England Travel, American Airlines and Atlas Magazine and more.

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